Thursday, November 28, 2013

Town Coffers Major Focus For Fort Frances

Finances continue to be a huge focus for the town of Fort Frances.

That from the town's Chief Administrative Officer Mark McCaig as he addressed the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.

McCaig says with tax revenues slowly eroding, the need to diversify the economic is more important the ever.

McCaig says Fort Frances is working on ways to benefit from mining and grow its residential tax base as a way of offset the current revenue losses.

McCaig says its also important to work closer with groups like the Chamber.

Busy Summer For Chamber

A busy summer for the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce.

President Mark Caron says the Chamber was engaged in a number activities, including continuing the cross-border talks with their counterparts in International Falls.

Caron says the Chamber has also attracted 28 new members since April.

It also handled about 340 inquiries a month for tourist information between May and October.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arrest Made in Year Old Murder Case

An arrest has been made in a year old murder investigation in Fort Frances.

OPP have charged 26-year-old Peter Deafy of Seine River First Nation with second degree murder in connection with the death of 45-year-old Leo Whitecrow, also of Fort Frances.

Whitecrow's body was discovered in a motel room of the Mid-Town Motel by a motel employee on November 2, 2012.

The causes of death isn't being immediately released.

Deafy will made a court appearance in Fort Frances tomorrow.

Mason Invited To State Conference

International Falls' director of economic and community development has been invited to a State conference on economic development.

Shawn Mason will serve as a panelist at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development event in Saint Paul, January 22nd.

The conference will explore Minnesota's economic future and is expected to draw more than 400 delegates.

Province Asked To Help Ease Hospital Overcrowding

The provincial government is under pressure to ease the gridlock situation at the Health Science's Centre in Thunder Bay.

Health Minister Deb Matthews says the government is trying to make sure the health authority is finding ways to resolve the overcrowding problem.

Matthews says resolving the problem at our hospital is a top priority.

Plan Your Trip Stateside

If your heading stateside this week, the Canada Border Services Agency recommends going early.

The CBSA is anticipating higher than normal traffic volumes at the border during the Black Friday and U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.

It recommends crossing outside peak traffic periods and check border wait times to avoid long wait times.

Opposition Questions Mazza's Appearance In Thunder Bay

Questions are being raised at Queen's Park about the present of former air ambulance president Dr. Chris Mazza at Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre's emergency room over the weekend.

Tory MP Frank Klees says it surprised him given that Mazza is under two separate investigations.

Health Minister Deb Matthews says it's not her responsibility for who the hospital hires, but notes any doctor there still has to be certified by the Ontario College of Family Physicians and Surgeons.

Federal Auditor Questions Border Practices

The federal Auditor-General says some of the controls put in place at the border to keep people from entering Canada illegally aren't always working.

Michael Ferguson, in his fall report, says the while the Canadian Border Services Agency has made significant progress in some of its efforts to detect high-risk travelers, it often does not get the information it needs to identify those travelers before they arrive in Canada.”

Ferguson says even when the agency has had the information, the controls don’t always work.

Campbell Seeks Input On Road Conditions

Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell is using social media to find out what local motorists feel about our road conditions.

Campbell has put out a Facebook message asking constituents to share their stories about the state of local highways.

She's responding to Transportation Minister Glen Murray's promise to come to northwestern Ontario and talk to local road maintenance contractors if the situation doesn't improve.

Bayfield Stops Drills

Bayfield Ventures has stopped its drills for this season.

The company has been conducting an extensive exploration program on its Burns Block project, north of Barwick and adjacent to New Gold's, formerly Rainy River Resources, gold project.

It says drilling has confirmed the widespread distribution of gold and silver with the potential of further discoveries to be made.

Murder Mystery At Fort High

A murder mystery goes at the Townshend Theatre in Fort Frances later this week.

Fort Frances High School students are doing a stage version of Agatha Christie's The Secret Adversary.

Student Cole Turcotte says it's something they don't do all that often.

The show opens Thursday night, running until Saturday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fort Frances Likes New Police Costing Model

Fort Frances town council isn't warming up to a resolution that opposes a new model for how municipalities will pay for OPP policing in the future.

The township of Sequin feels the new model, to be based on a $250-dollar charge per household, plus a charge for each call, will result in higher policing costs.

Fort Frances Mayor Roy Avis supports the new model, saying it will make the costing more fair.

Fort Frances now pays one of the highest costs per household costs in the province for policing.

New Price On Building Permits

A stamp of approval has been given on the new cost of building permits in Fort Frances.

Beginning in the new year, home builders will be charged a rate of 80 cents a square foot for their permits.

Administration revised its original plan of 90 cents following concerns expressed two weeks ago by Councillor Ken Perry.

Fees for sheds, decks and garages will also be based on their square footage.

Sisters Recognized As Citizens Of The Year

Florence Hill (2nd from right)
Jane McLeod (2nd from left)
They're being called superb volunteers.

94-year-old Jane McLeod and 88-year-old Florence Hill were  formally recognized as Fort Frances citizens of the year by town council last night.

The sisters are appreciative of being recognized.

The life long residents of Fort Frances continue to be active with the Legion, LaVerendrye Hospital and Rainycrest Auxiliaries and their churches.

Doer To Make A Return Visit

Fort Frances and International Falls are getting a visit next year from Canada's Ambassador to the United States.

Falls Mayor Bob Anderson says Gary Doer's visit is tentatively scheduled for June 26.

His itinerary is still being developed.

Doer was last in the area in 2010.

Bed Shortage At Thunder Bay Hospital

Thunder Bay's Hospital continues to operate in a gridlock situation.

Three elective surgeries had to be cancelled last week because there was no beds for patients waiting admission.

Spokesperson Rhonda Crocker-Ellacott says they're trying to find other beds in the community and within the hospital for patients.

Crocker-Ellacott says they're not sure why they've had an influx in patients, but does not attribute it to the cold and flu season.

Former Air Ambulance Head Doing ER Duties

The former president and Chief Executive Officer of Ontario's air ambulance service has found a new line of work.

Dr. Chris Mazza spent some in Thunder Bay this past weekend working as an emergency room doctor.

Chief of Staff at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center, Dr. Gordon Porter says it went well and hopes Mazza will help fill future ER shifts.

Common Ground Initiative Gets Interest In North

Northerners appear to be responding to Premier Wynne's call for ideas.

Liberals from the region gathered in Thunder Bay on the weekend to discuss the Common Ground initiative.

Regional Vice-president Anthony Leek says he's happy with the response.

Some of the ideas include strengthening tele-health services and creating a Far North Advisory council.

The Liberals are giving the public an extra week to submit ideas and vote on suggestions already made.

Enforcement Blitz Nets 11

The Ministry of Natural Resources is touting the success of a weekend enforcement blitz on deer hunting safety.

The Ministry says conservation officers laid eleven charges including, hunting without a licence, trespassing on private land and obstructing a conservation officer.

Knox Fails To Reach Semi-Final Round

Knox United Church has fallen short of its effort to reach the semi-final round of the Avivia Community Fund contest.

The Fort Frances church finished just 250 votes back of the top ten which will move on.

It entered the contest in hopes of winning funding for its building renewal project.

They will kick off fundraising locally with a dinner and silent auction to take place December 7.

Tickets are available at Brockie Jewellers and Fort Frances General Supply

Crash Victims Officially Released

OPP have now officially released the names of the victims in this month's Bearskin Airline crash in Red Lake.

Police confirm 25 year old Aniruddh Sawant, 34 year old Peter Traczuk, both of Winnipeg and 53-year-old Anna Johannesson, 53 year old Peter Struk, and 64 year old Sharron Taylor, all of Red Lake, died when the plane crashed short of the runway November 10.

Two others survived.

The Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate.

Economic Response Teams Moving Along

The mayor of International Falls is happy with the progress being made by the economic response teams set up to help offset the recent job loss at the Boise paper mill.

Bob Anderson says some of the individuals on the teams have come together to form a communication group to keep area residents informed.

Anderson says the group is also awaiting on a federal grant that will help put in place some of the other initiatives identified.

Monday, November 25, 2013

NDP Fighting Against Long-Term Energy Contracts

Electricity retailers beware.

The NDP is taking directed aimed at them with a private members bill that would prevent fixed term contracts.

Kenora-Rainy River M.P.P. Sarah Campbell says it's one of the biggest issues her office has to deal with.

Campbell says a recent report shows that people who have signed long term contracts often pay anywhere from 35 to 65 percent more for electricity.

Mayor Outlines Priorities

The mayor of International Falls has outlined his priorities for the next year.

Bob Anderson spokes last week during a meeting of the the International Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Anderson says he plans to focus on the basics, but sees the city's future focused on timber, tourism, technology and transportation and a strengthening of those areas.

He'd also like to see the development of a comprehensive plan to involve Koochiching County and the city of Ranier.

The last plan was done in 1966 and lead to a new by-pass.

Final Vote Day For Knox United Church

Knox United Church in Fort Frances is making a final push to gain a semi-final spot in the Aviva Community Fund contest.

The Church is hoping to secure a top ten spot as it seeks funding for its renewal project.

It's currently sitting in 13th spot, about 200 votes back of 10th, with voting in this third and final round ending at 11 a.m. today.

Click this link to vote.

FASD Committee Formed

Northwestern Ontario has a new committee focused on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Creighton Youth Services Director Jack Martin says the new committee will create a strong voice when speaking about FASD.

Martin says FASD is a lifelong illness and that early detection can prevent people from falling into substance abuse and mental health issues.

Chambers Scraps Pre-Thanksgiving Day Promotion

There will be no early Thanksgiving late night shopping promotion in International Falls this year.

The International Falls Chamber of Commerce says only nine of 112 businesses responded to its inquiry of the proposed promotion with eight supporting the idea of Wednesday evening shopping in advance of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

The Chamber says it may revisit the promotion next year.

Festival Of Trees Bidding On Now

Bids are now being accepted in the Festival of Trees.

The trees have been decorated and donated by a number of individuals, businesses and organization.

They're on display at the Fine Line Art Gallery in Fort Frances.

Bids will be accepted up until this Saturday.

Proceeds will go to the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce and Fort Frances Kiwanis Club.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sawmill To Start Up Again

Workers at the Resolute Forest Products sawmill in Thunder Bay are heading back to work following a sudden shutdown earlier this week.

The mill was closed Tuesday due to a recent string of accidents.

The company has since gone through a review of its health and safety procedures and plans to be back in operation this Sunday.

About 200 workers were affected by the shutdown.

Municipalities To Be Informed Of What's On The Rails

Rail companies must now let municipalities know when they're transporting dangerous goods through their communities.

Federal transport Minister Lisa Raitt has issued a so-called protective direction.

A release says it's aimed at enhancing safety and improving communication between railways and communities,

The directive is to remain in place for at least three years.

Province Reviewing Right-Of-Way Use

Complaints from Ontario snowmobile clubs has forced the provincial government to reconsider a controversial policy.

Transportation minister Glenn Murray confirms that a decision to charge snowmobile clubs for use of hydro right-of-ways is under review.

NDP critic Michael Mantha says its just one of a long line of policies that's hurting winter tourism in Ontario.

Murray says the policy was put in place because of liability concerns raised by the Ministries of Infrastructure and Energy.

Parents Asked For Help In Combating Cyber-bullying

Parents are being asked to help combat cyber-bullying.

OPP offer a "Respect Technology" program to schools in the Rainy River district.

But Constable Anne McCoy says parents can also learn how to protect, prevent and deal with the issue of cyber-bullying by finding tips on the website

McCoy says many incidents of bullying are the result of comments made on social media sites that spread in a matter of seconds.

One School Recommended

Rainy River District School Board trustees are being asked to consider consolidating three elementary schools into one, with the new school built in Emo.

Trustees gathered Tuesday night to hear administration's take on recent accommodation reviews of Donald Young School in Emo, Sturgeon Creek in Barwick and Crossroads School in Devlin.

Administration suggests a single school would be provide the most benefits to the board and students.

An advisory committee also recommended a new school in Emo, but two others looking at the future of Sturgeon Creek and Crossroads recommended they remain open.

Trustees will make a final decision at their January meeting.

Snow Plowing Complaints Raised Already

Questions about snow plowing are being raised at Queen's Park again.

Kenora-Rainy River M.P.P. Sarah Campbell says has been her office is already being inundated with complaints about road closures after heavy snow fell in several parts of northwestern Ontario on the weekend.

Transportation minister Glen Murray says the government is putting more resources towards winter road maintenance, but says if there is a problem, he's willing to come to the region and talk to the local contractor.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sheriff Worried About Emergency Prepareness Costs

File photo
Koochiching County's Sheriff is voicing concern with the cost of preparing for an emergency.

Brian Jesperson updated County commissioners at their meeting yesterday, of potential initiatives such as Counties being required to have a full-time emergency manager and a fully-equipped operation center.

Jesperson says the measures are being pushed with little financial support.

But he says failing to comply could impact on future federal support in time of a disaster.

Fire Charges Stay Put

Residents of Koochiching County won't see an increase in the cost of fire protection next year.

Fees for the Rural Fire Service Taxing District will remain the same.

Homeowners are charged 85-dollars while commercial property owners are charged based on the value of their buildings.

The city of Rainer is charged $29,500.

Rep Randy Pozniak says the only change is that they're letting people now sooner than before.

Pozniak says they've also changed the date of its annual meeting from February to June.

Thunder Bay Sawmill Shuts Down

Resolute Forest Products is shutting its sawmill in Thunder Bay down temporarily.

The company calls it a safety break after an employee broke his nose while on the job Monday.

Company spokesperson Xavier Van Chau says it was felt best to halt operations after what he calls a pattern of safety issues at the mill.

No word when operations will resume.

Murder Charge Laid

A 21-year old woman is facing a second degree murder charge following a death on Kasabonika Lake First Nation.

OPP say 20-year old Courtney Mamakeesic died from her injuries sustained in an altercation at a residence Sunday.

21-year old Clarissa Anderson of Kasabonika was arrested and will appear in a Kenora courtroom Friday.

Thin Ice Warning

Ice is forming on some waters and that is prompting a warning from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to stay off.

The warning follows the recent rescue of a man on Little Rock Lake in Benton County who fell through the ice while fishing.

The DNR says a few days of cold weather doesn't create ice strong enough to hold a person.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Public Asked For Input

The public is now being asked to help Fort Frances come up with a brand.

A new survey has been created to assist in the initiative.

Consultant Tannis Drysdale says community input ensures the right brand is being developed.

The survey is found on the town's website or at the town office.

Mayor Questions New EDO Office

Some questions are being raised about the renovations at International Falls City hall.

Mayor Bob Anderson says he was surprised to see a new office being created for the town's economic development office, suggesting the move was being "slipped under the door."

Anderson says its sends the wrong message to taxpayers.

Other councillors say the move of the EDO office was always part of the plans and the costs are falling with an approved budget.

Warming Up To Festival Of Frost

Despite some negative reaction early on, the static display for Christmas floats in Fort Frances is now generating some positive interest.

One of the organizers of the new Festival of Frost, Robin Payeur says the event is shaping up every well.

Payeur says they now have at least ten floats, along with other events including pictures with Santa Claus, horses and sled dogs.

One of the floats will include a live nativity scene.

Payeur says they still have lots of room for others to take part.

The event goes November 30

Northwestern Health Unit Welcomes New Proposed Smoking Rules

Smiles all around at the Northwestern Health Unit.

The provincial government has introduced legislation that if passed, will ban smoking on playgrounds, sports fields, and restaurant and bar patios.

Youth Engagement Coordinator Catherine Kiewning says there's a lot of benefits to having smoke free outdoor spaces.

Kiewning is also pleased to see the proposed bill to double fines for those who sell tobacco to youth.

Funding Coming To Riverside

Some funding to assist local cancer patients is coming to Riverside Health Care Facilities.

The money from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation will go to replace an IV pump and a specialized pharmacy cart that ensures the safe delivery of chemotherapy to area patients.

A formal presentation will take place tomorrow at LaVerendrye Hospital.

House Fire In Falls

The American Red Cross is stepping in to assist an International Falls family.

The family of seven, which includes five children, was forced from flee after a blaze Friday in their 22nd Street East home.

An official with International Falls Fire Department says the fire was contained mostly to the kitchen area.

It was started when something was left unattended on the stove.

Missing Teen Found

A Fort Frances teen who was the subject of a police search has been found.

OPP says 15-year-old Adrianna Copenace was found safe and sound in Mitaanjigaming First Nation on the weekend.

She has been reported missing last Wednesday.

Foundation Boosts Scholarship Award

Some more incentive for students in International Falls to get good grades.

The Rainy River Community College Foundation has increased its annual award for “Top of the Class” high school students from $2,000 to $3,000.

Top of the Class students are those whose grade point average is 3.5 or higher.

If eligible students maintain a 3.25 grade point average while enrolled at Rainy River Community College, the scholarship is renewed for another year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

NDP Welcomes More Plows

Expect to see more snowplows on area highways this winter.

The provincial government is deploying 50 additional snowplows, 42-of them in northern Ontario.

NDP critic John Vanthof applauds the move.

The Ministry of Transportation and contractors were flooded with complaints last winter about snow clearing practices.

House Fire In Fort Frances

No injuries reported from a house fire in Fort Frances on the weekend.

Members of the Fort Frances Fire and Rescue Service were called out around the supper hour Saturday to a home on 3rd Street West near Central Avenue.

Fire officials says no one was home at the time.

The house sustained heavy damage, but its cause is still under investigation.